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How to succeed with the 55+ Housing Lifestyle Market in a COVID-19 recession

-Carrie Roeger, Vice-Chair NAHB 55+ Housing Council

There is no denying the COVID-19 pandemic is crippling our economy. It’s significantly impacting your business even though many of you are qualified as an essential business. At least you are building product, but you are not selling.


Reports from the financial world indicate that most portfolios have dropped 30% or more. The drop is similar to the recession of 2008. Your target demographic is deeply concerned about their economic ability to continue to live


comfortably. This has just taken a large number of prospects out of the market. Even if you are building speculative product in the hopes to sell once we are released from shelter in place, finding the buyers is going to look different.

You most likely have already made a large pivot in your marketing, pushing more content, photography and even videos online. Have you changed your messaging yet? If you are still heavily promoting the lifestyle component of your community, you may be missing the prospects that are still in the market.

As a marketer for a prominent 55+ builder during the recession, I had to make a pivot as well. It didn’t take long to realize that our marketing message was no longer working. Traffic was significantly down, and sales were hard to come by. When we stopped to understand the marketing persona of the ones who were buying, we quickly found a market to work with. That persona is of the person who “needs” to buy.

Up until the recession of 2008, and up until the beginning of March of this year, many sales were driven by the ‘want’ to buy with the focus on lifestyle. Prospects want the lifestyle. They had the financial stability to purchase on the want. Life is great for everyone. Today, what we want is put on the back shelf in an effort to protect what we have. The buying pool is now primarily made of people who need to buy. Why do they need to buy? They are having a hip or knee replacement and cannot negotiate the stairs. They don’t want to or can no longer care for the yard. The need to be near their adult children for continual support and soon, additional care.

This is a challenging marketing situation. If you change your messaging to address these needs, you may repel your buyers as they don’t want to be reminded of the situations. Yet, addressing these needs will speak their language and help them see the possibilities for a better future. Once you capture them by speaking to their quantifiable needs, you can then paint the picture of the lifestyle. This will seal the deal and encourage them to move forward as you will solve their problem and improve their life in many other ways.

In our new world of uncertainty, finding the pain point that you can solve will lead to sales. Pivot hard; marketing techniques, messaging, incentives. There is a magic combination that will help you find the pocket in the market that is buying. The 55+ Housing Council has many talented individuals and companies that can help you pivot and succeed. Reach out to them for help. That’s why you are a part of the council.

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